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El Enfermo se me muere - An Ethnographic Analysis of Fragmented Neoliberalization in Mexico's Health Care Reform



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In the year 2000, the Mexican government introduced the public health program Social Protection in Health, aiming to attain 100% health insurance coverage for the Mexican population. Official program evaluations to date have focused on quantitative measures of health outcomes, but little qualitative research on the experiences of patients has been conducted in the evaluation process. This presentation uses data collected in an ethnographic study of 72 women in an agricultural community in southern Veracruz to analyze the experiences of women who participate in Social Protection in Health through its health insurance program known as Seguro Popular. Although recent research demonstrates national improvement in some health outcomes following program implementation, women in the ethnographic study often claimed that health care through the program was inadequate and did not serve their health needs. I argue that the disconnect between improved national health outcomes and women's experiences of care is in part due to the fragmented and partial neoliberalization of health care programs and discourses that both patients and personnel adopt and that supports changes in public health clinic infrastructure and care delivery.

Mary Alice Scott is assistant professor of anthropology and cross-appointed assistant professor in public health sciences at New Mexico State University. She received her B.A. in Women's Studies from Duke University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Kentucky. Her areas of specialization are medical anthropology, gender theory, health disparities, political economy, and intersectionality. Her dissertation research focused on health issues faced by women living in a migrant-sending community in southern Veracruz, Mexico. Her current research examines the ways in which older, undocumented immigrants with chronic illnesses navigate health care systems and public health messages. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, a Fulbright-García Robles grant, the University of Kentucky Graduate School, and the New Mexico State University College of Arts & Sciences.


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El Enfermo se me muere - An Ethnographic Analysis of Fragmented Neoliberalization in Mexico's Health Care Reform